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December 04, 2014

MS Project Master Schedule : A Project Plan for Multiple Projects

One of the challenges that many of us working in the project management field have to do is to manage multiple projects.  In many cases it can be the same project team working in different projects.

Master Project Plan in MS Project
MS Project Master Schedule
Using a MasterProjectPlan concept with Microsoft Project 2013 to combine the reporting can be used in either scenarios above. If you need help with creating a project plan please see other articles Simple Project Plan or  Microsoft Project Basics.

One of the key issues with managing multiple projects is, to be able to report the status of each project separately or together depending on the situation.

On the flip side you can be in situation where you are in a team of project managers with each manager having his or her own plan.  In the situation with multiple project managers it is  quite challenging to give a high level view of how the projects are progressing.

The advantages of using a MasterProject Plan are –

1. You can track multiple projects from a single project plan.
2. The project plans can be updated via MasterProject plan or independently.  
3. Microsoft Project 2013 allows to generate reports to enhance your project management reporting. 
4. You can get a combined report on resource usage and task usage.

Please see How to use MS Project Reports and How to manager a team of Resources using MS Project to find out the benefits of using Master Project Plan.

Like any method or concept the MasterProject plan has some disadvantages  –

1. Master Project plan can get really slow as you keep adding projects and at times can crash.
2. You might unknowingly update other plans included in the MasterProjectPlan.
3. Sometimes some of the options like adding holidays and other common features don’t work.
4. Everyone should use the same Microsoft Project version which can be sometimes difficult.
5. Not all the project managers update their plan regularly or in the same fashion as others do.
6. Different PMs could be using different resources names or terminologies.

 Please see the video which has a hands-on tutorial on creating a project plan with 3 sub-projects.